Ramp, Bacon & Ricotta Tart
Ever since discovering that patch of ramps on our land last weekend, I’ve been trying to think of different ways to use them. I’ve been throwing a few into dishes we’ve had all week; sauteed with greens in place of garlic, they’re terrific. Paired with eggs, they are fabulous. But the mother of all combinations, for me at least, has got to be any kind of pork product paired with these skinny, stinky (no, not stinky: delightfully aromatic!) little buggers. I was craving bacon and ramps in a pairing, had some terrific Piggery bacon to use, and came up with the idea for this tart.
And because I was in the middle of quite a few things when I made it (we are in the process of starting the house building adventure, which means there are always lots of things to be done every day!), I tried to streamline the prep process slightly. The crust comes together easily in the food processor, and you can either pre-bake the shell in a tart pan as I did, or you could do a free-form galette, rolling the dough out, spooning the filling into the middle, and folding the edges back over part of the filling. That might be a nice rustic look.
I use dried beans to weigh down the shell while pre-baking it (kidney beans, actually, since they’re my least favorite. ugh.)
The Piggery’s bacon is awesome: deliciously meaty and marbled with fat
I used one pan to first cook the bacon, then I used some of the leftover bacon fat to saute the spinach and shallots that would go into the ricotta filling. Into the food processor the bacon-fat-sauteed spinach and shallots went, along with some creamy ricotta and an egg. The ramps were then quickly wilted in the same pan, with a little bit of leftover bacon fat.
ready to whirl in the egg
wilt the ramps in the same pan you cooked the bacon in – yum
ready to go in the oven
The ricotta mixture formed the base of the tart, and I crumbled the bacon and layered the wilted ramps on top…and look how prettily it emerged:
It tasted pretty darn fantastic, too. I think this would be a great brunch, lunch, or picnic dish — though we happily ate big slices of it for dinner one night this week along with a salad of dark, leafy greens, roasted beets, goat cheese and pepitas. The essence of bacon you get throughout the tart — not overpowering at all, just enough to give a little depth of flavor and smokiness — is, in my mind, out of this world and a perfect partner to the ramps. They’ll only be around for a few more weeks, so cook ‘em if you can get ‘em!
Oh, one last thing — I’m on Twitter now! You can follow me here, or by clicking the cute little button with the bluebird on the upper right of the blog.
Ramp, Bacon & Ricotta Tart
an Eggs on Sunday original
If you don’t feel like using a tart pan, you could make this as a free form tart (galette). Skip the step for prebaking the tart shell, and instead, spread the filling in the center of the rolled out round of dough, leaving a 3 inch border of dough around the filling, then fold that border back up and over the filling.
For the tart crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
For the tart filling:
4 slices of good quality bacon
1 large shallot, sliced
3 cups (packed) spinach
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 large egg
salt and pepper, to taste
about 18 ramps, cleaned and bulb ends trimmed
In a food processor, combine the flours and salt and pulse to combine. Add the pieces of cold unsalted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 3 tablespoons ice water, then pulse in 1 second bursts until the mixture resembles curds and clumps (you can add a little more water if needed.) Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface, gather it together in a ball, flatten into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
To pre-bake the tart shell, roll it out and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan, trimming off any excess (you can save the excess dough to patch any tears that might appear in the dough.) Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork all over, then lay a piece of foil into the shell and fill the foil with dried beans (they’ll act as weights to keep the shell from puffing up in the oven.) Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for an additional 7 minutes or so, until the dough loses it’s glossiness and turns ever so slightly golden brown around the edges. Remove the shell from the oven, keeping it in the pan, and cool on a rack.
When you’re ready to assemble the tart, cook the bacon in a large, heavy saute pan until browned and crisp. Remove to a cooling rack to drain off any excess fat. Pour off the bacon fat (save it to cook other things with!) until there’s about a tablespoon left in the pan. Return the pan to medium high heat and saute the sliced shallots until softened, then add the spinach and cook the mixture just until wilted.
Transfer the spinach/shallot mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the ricotta cheese, egg, and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper (I found it didn’t need much additional salt since the bacon is kind of salty.) Puree the mixture until the spinach is chopped, and set aside.
In the same pan you used to cook the bacon and spinach, add the whole ramps and a little bit of water. Cook just until the ramp greens have wilted, and set aside.
Transfer the ricotta/spinach mixture into the tart shell. Top with the crumbled bacon slices, then arrange the wilted ramps over the top. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake for about 35-45 minutes in a 375 degree F oven, until the top is just starting to turn brown, the filling is slightly puffed and set, and the crust is golden brown.
Serves 4 generously.